Before we took ownership of the Econo Lodge on Dixie Highway, it was the Southwind Motel. Built in 1968 the little motel had California appeal in its design but few luxuries. There were only 24 rooms and there was no pool, all they really had was your basic accommodations and a fancy neon light overlooking the motel.
Back in the 60s and 70s, before Americans had dozens of hotel chains to choose from, motels had their own charm. These days we associate motels with horror movies, no room service, and sometimes creepy, unwelcome guests. Most motels weren’t chains but independent and had it’s own look to it. Families headed to a vacation spot didn’t plan ahead or make reservations, they stopped at the nearest motel with vacancy, usually in the middle of the night and had no real expectations of the place other than to sleep.
The motels with swimming pools were something special and sometimes even the locals would come around for a dip to cool off. In those days, only one or two people ran the whole place: they did the cleaning, maintenance, and ran the front desk. You also didn’t have to be 21 to get a room like so many states now, so prom night was probably their busiest night of the year.
The Southwind motel didn’t have a swimming pool but it did have charm and that neon sign, which we inherited and have never had to repair since 1998. Nowadays, most motels are a chain and they all look the same, but the service is better and you can enjoy more than just a good night sleep, it really is a home away from home.